For the past year I have been taking several groups rockhounding to various locations in Washington County, Missouri, which is well known for collecting druse quartz and barite. A well known mineral dealer in the area, had been taking groups to a few locations so they could collect druse quartz and bladed barite, but he was growing weary of the activity and asked me to take over, and was instrumental in setting me up with some of the local agencies in the Potosi area that I would be interacting with for access to a couple of the locations.
He also set me up with a local landowner, Greg Coleman, who owns Haunted Ridge Druse Farm near Cadet…he had inspected Greg`s extensive farm property of 200 acres and found druse quartz in huge abundance there, in many forms, colors, shapes and sizes.
Greg was in need of some assistance in getting it off the ground and into operation, so I met with him one day and we hashed out a basic plan to get him going. I began by advertising his farm location and posting photos of the druse quartz found there, and then I began leading several clubs and small groups to collect there, eventually bringing in larger groups as word began to spread among rockhounding facebook page groups.
In addition to beautiful druse quartz on his property, Greg also has hillsides covered with multiple colors and sizes of Missouri Lace Agate, suitable for lapidarists and jewelry makers. He also has barite in at least three forms including some bladed barites, and iron in the form of limonite and hematite, can be found in various areas that include straws, raisins, blades, stars, and columns, sometimes attached to the druse quartz. The following photos show druse with hematite raisins and bars/straws attached….
Within six months, Greg had things down pat, was able to take early retirement from his workplace and begin to operate his farm on his own. He and his wife Judy, and their family crew, have made some great changes and additions to the basic operation that I started him off with, and they have made a great name for themselves in Customer Service related to Rockhounding.
From the get go, Greg created a large parking area behind his house, and placed a porta potty out there as well, He also began transporting rockhounds, six at a time in his four wheel drive razer, to various locations on his farm to surface collect and dig, and then would check back on them throughout the day, hour by hour, and then transport them and their filled and heavy buckets back to their vehicles for them. He and his crew also lift and load heavy, large yard rocks into their razors and transport them back to the rockhound`s vehicle as well, and assist in transferring the buckets and yard rocks to the vehicle, too. During the hot summer months, Greg also put several foam coolers out in various wooded areas, stocked full with iced down water bottles, to help rockhounds in those areas stay hydrated while collecting. He also sets extra buckets out in those areas in case rockhounds need extra buckets for the crystals they are collecting. During the height of the summer season, Greg hosted a Machine Dig at his farm and with bigger crowds attending, he had an extra porta pottie placed out in the wooded area near where the machine was digging at. Word has since spread across the country about his farm and the collecting opportunities there, as well as the great customer service that Greg and his family crew offer to rockhounds.
Recently, Greg and Johnboy, one of his brother in laws, were up at Geode Fest 2021 in Keokuk, Iowa, where they sold Druse Quartz and t shirts that he had printed up, at a booth there…they did so well they sold out a day early !!
Once Greg started operating his farm solo, I shifted my attention to another landowner that was referred to me, and met with him at his property one day. He took me for a tour on his razer and showed me the 400 acres that he was in the process of clearing off brush and some timber, to create pasture for his cattle. He had been told that some lead and barite mining had taken place there many years ago, but other than that, he wasn`t aware of what might be there. We stopped and walked some areas that he was familiar with, one a large dirt area fringing a large lake, this dirt area was extensive and I was finding alot of druse plates, big and small while walking it…he told me that there had been a deep trench there when they began clearing and the trench was backfilled with stumps first and then piles of dirt laced with druse quartz on both side of the trench, so that area alone is at least 50 feet deep in druse quartz….
This landowner decided since he is continuing to clear his land off to eventually graze cattle on, he would offer collecting to groups on certain weekends when he was available and I would set up the group digs on those available weekends, and lead the rockhounds by group to his farm. During the initial few weeks of setting up a basic plan of operation for him, I was able to bring some rockhounds in my group down to do some basic exploring to see what all we could find there.
We began to find small barite plates with tiny blades on them, many were in a curved formation and some were attached to druse, found at two different spots on the property. I showed them to Greg Coleman at one point and he told me they were called Turtleback barites, that is what the older miners called them, and they were crushed up right along with the ugly massive barite. This is what they look like…two attached to druse and one by itself…
One thing was certain, a large mining operation had taken place there back in the 40`s and 50`s, as evidenced by several hand dug and machine dug exploration holes dotted all over the wooded area hillsides surrounding the cleared off areas. I did some research online and discovered not just one mine in that area, but another mine had operated in that same area as well, and the larger of the two constructed a smelter and a milling operation there as well.
As I continued to go there and scout the land as it was cleared off, I made even more discoveries of beautiful crystals there…and informed the rockhounds coming to the farm so they were able to collect more than druse quartz….soon I was finding crystalline blue barite plates in various areas of the property, usually in piles of deer red rich clay.
Many of the turtleback barites have been found in big pockets on the hillside above the new pond, which the landowner had dug out by the dozer operator on the west side of the property…over there we have also extensively walked and explored the hillside all around the new pond and found white quartz, clear quartz, green quartz and smoky quartz, much of it with the turtleback barites attached…mainly down by the water`s edge as well, and the barite there is color influenced by the clay dirt, so it will either look red, yellow, or orange, however rockhounds can often clean it by soaking in Iron Out and that will bring the true color back to a white. Most do not clean it off completely as the various color shades reveal the tiny blades on the turtlebacks much better than white does.
Recently we have found some Missouri Lace Agates here and there across the property, some with black lace colors involved, which is a new one for most collectors, no one seems to remember finding that color anywhere else in Washington County at least.
I also discovered some purple druse quartz in huge piles of red rich clay piled up on either side of the lower dam of the big lake. The landowner created a breach in the north side of the lower dam to drain the lake down so he could make repairs to a leak in the middle of the dam…on both sides of the breach area are the huge piles of rich red clay dirt and the purple druse was found on the lake side of the breach…
On the other side of the breach, the water flows down and creates a large waterfall, and that water continues to flow down the hill to a large scenic creek that flows through the middle of the farm…
Druse plates can be found in the breach area as well as the waterfall….
This year is without a doubt, one of the busiest I have been, taking many groups rockhunting to both of the druse farms in Washington County and some groups to other locations I have access to, including a couple of quarries…so if anyone is interested, give me a shout at email@example.com